Sam Regenstrief was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1910. He came to America with his family when he was nine years old and they settled in Indianapolis, Indiana. After high school, his talents and ingenuity led to successful careers in accounting and management consulting, and then to becoming vice president of the refrigeration division of Philco in Connersville, Indiana. In 1958, Regenstrief left Philco and organized Design & Manufacturing Corporation in Connersville. He believed that many families would purchase dishwashers to free housewives from this menial chore. He organized D&M to mass produce dishwashers, and by the mid-1970s, D&M employed 2,000 people and produced about 37 percent of the world’s dishwashers.
Sam Regenstrief was recognized nationally as an authority on industrial production techniques. It was his contention that innovation and new technology, applied to medical problems, would provide better healthcare for more people at a lower cost. Sam joined forces with Dr. John Hickam, then chairman of the Department of Medicine at Indiana University, and the Regenstrief Foundation and Regenstrief Institute for Health Care were formed in 1969. The two operated as one entity until June 30, 2002, when a separate entity was formed to house the operations of the Institute.
The Regenstrief Foundation continues to provide funding to the Regenstrief Institute, which is well known for the development of the Regenstrief Medical Record System, pioneering medical informatics research, and health services research (particularly in the area of aging). On January 1, 2005, the Foundation began to provide funding to Purdue University to launch the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering. The center’s focus is to apply the principles of engineering, management, and science to improve healthcare delivery.
The nature of the work of the Regenstrief Foundation will remain fully supportive of Sam Regenstrief’s vision: The continued improvement of the health care delivery system. The Foundation’s mission is “to provide support for innovative research directed toward improving the efficiency, quality, and accessibility of healthcare. We will emphasize research in informatics, epidemiology, economics, and interventions in healthcare delivery. We will support selected programs by providing sustained long-term support of institutional partners. In pursuing this mission, we are committed to building on Sam Regenstrief’s legacy by stressing creativity, adaptability, and results in both what we do and how we operate.”